- −10% Construction cost
- +25% Domestic trade power
- −5% Technology cost
- −10% Stability cost modifier
- +10% Production efficiency
- +10% Ship durability
- +10% National manpower modifier
- −10% Idea cost
- +10% National tax modifier
- +10% Infantry combat ability
This close connection to Ming China was to remain until the downfall of the Ming in the mid-17th century - as was Korea's subordinate status in the relationship. As followers of Confucianism, Koreans viewed China as being at the heart of the Korean world, and Joseon Korea came to be in some ways even more sinicized than China itself - a 'little China'. For their part, the Chinese viewed Joseon Korea as the 'country of courteous people in the East.' For as long as Ming remains the undisputed claimant to the Mandate of Heaven, the maintenance of these strong bonds will remain vital to the survival of the fledgling Korean kingdom.
The achievements of the first century of Joseon rule were considerable. In the early 15th century, the border regions of Gyeongseong and Yukjin were taken from the Manchu, allowing the Koreans to unite the territory which would form modern-day Korea. There was also a flourishing of academia and knowledge. In particular, the hangul alphabet was introduced in 1446. Unlike the Chinese alphabet, it was designed to be both easy to learn and easy to adapt to the Korean language, making its use far more convenient and allowing a far broader section of society to read scholarly texts. Further notable progress was made in the fields of agriculture, gun powder and the codification of the law, and major efforts were made to survey and recorded the geography of the land.
However, threats to the Korean kingdom remain from both within and beyond its borders. At home, Korea's peasants remain poor, and both peasant uprisings and insufficient tax receipts are likely to become a problem if nothing is done to rectify the situation. Furthermore, although the upper class of yangban elites has for the most part been united, the cracks in this façade are already beginning to show and could erupt into factional strife at anytime.
On the foreign front lie threats aplenty. To the north await the warlike Manchu - although presently divided, should they come to be unified under a strong leader, an invasion of Korea might follow swiftly. Similarly, across the sea to the east lies Japan, a nation of warring daimyos and would-be shoguns. Korea must be vigilant, lest a united Japan seek to expand its power across narrow channel of the Korean Sea. Finally, although Korea basks in the shadow of the Ming Empire, woe betide the Joseon prince who wakes the dragon!
- Main article: Korean missions
Korean missions mainly focus on expansion into its three neighbors, China, Manchuria, and Japan. It is also required to stop the negative events that Korea is plagued with.
- Main article: Korean events
Korean events focus on their historic internal affairs and potential expansion into Manchuria. Most of the events provide nice quality of life bonuses, but some are reserved for the Factional Strive and Rebel events that Korea is penalized with.
The Joseon dynasty of Korea is a nation with a challenging start, plagued with unique internal instabilities and quirks that are not made too apparent by the game. The player must be aware of these hurdles to overcome prior to playing as the nation. Korea begins the game with an excellent ruler (6/5/5) which is necessary for the development that it must do to avoid bad events. Similar to Japan, Korea finds itself close to Alaska and is in a prime position to snipe the Colonialism institution from the Europeans.
Korea is saddled by unique modifiers and events which hinder the nation. The player must be aware of these lest they fall into internal turmoil and factional dissent.
- Inwards Perfection
- Inwards Perfection is a privilege for the Clergy of Confucian nations that only Korea begins the game with. It gives a small development cost reduction bonus but gives the nation a stability hit when declaring war! Make sure to revoke this privilege before declaring any wars as Korea.
- Plight of the Peasantry
- Plight of the Peasantry is a unique, continuous, timed event that happens to Korea that plagues the nation with unrest and rebel issues. To remove this, Korea must finish the mission with the same name by getting all of the provinces in the Korea region to at least 6 development. It is highly recommended to clear this mission early in the game when fixed truces are in place to prevent Korea from expanding properly.
- Factional Dissent and the Literary Purges
- Based on historical events, the Literary Purges are a long event chain that plagues Korea with minor estate troubles. Thanks to 1.30, removing the timed event that follows the end of the Third Purge is much easier now. Korea must complete the Freedom from Factional Strife mission by either having 90% Crown Land or by having one estate at 60+% loyalty and the other two at 40+%.
Korea begins the game with very few immediate expansion routes due to start-game truces and a border with Ming. Because of this, its best to begin by dealing with the Plight of the Peasantry by saving up monarch points to develop all provinces in the Korea region to at least 6. Because Korea starts with an excellent ruler, spending monarch points on raising stability once is not a bad idea as it allows them to begin obtaining prosperity, which lowers development cost and will be vital when developing institutions.
One important thing to mention is the new nation So in Tsushima/Daema island. So obtains an event early on that allows them to switch to a pirate republic. If this happens, restarting the game and waiting until So chooses to remain a monarchy is most optimal, as Korea really wants the early prosperity for the development cost reduction. Alternatively you can begin building heavy ships day 1 to send on a pirate hunting mission so that the effects of raiding can be somewhat mitigated or you can play without the Golden Century DLC.
After developing all provinces to 6, the player can choose to either continue developing for Renaissance or expand into Manchu. If you choose to expand, make sure to revoke the Inwards Perfection privilege from the Clergy to prevent nasty stability hits from surprising you.
Expanding into Manchuria is similar any other early game expansion: make a few alliances with the tribes in the region and backstab them in the peace offer by not offering land. Remember that since 1.29, coalitions in NE Asia are much more serious, so improve relations with outraged nations to prevent a massive coalition from firing.
Manchuria presents a large culture (Jurchen) that you should accept. Although the Korean mission tree attempts to persuade Korea into culture converting Manchuria into Korean culture, this is very tedious to do, not only because the Manchurian land has much higher development than Korea, but also because of Korea’s Confucian religion, which decreases harmony by a lot when attempting to convert the religion of provinces.
Further Expansion Routes
At some point in the early-mid game, it's advised to take out Japan as they will steal a significant portion of the Nippon node with their superior development and province density. Its much easier to take on Japan when there are a few larger daimyos remaining as it will lessen the number of capital forts in the area and also reduce the numbers of the Japanese army and navy.
In addition, Korea is an excellent colonizer as they can reach Alaska for a chance to spawn colonialism. From there, expansion into Mexican gold is easy and the money from the Mexican, Californian, and Rio Grande nodes can be brought back to Asia. Remember to colonize Polynesia as the new node provides some opportunities to bring back trade from the Philippines. Indonesia is also ripe for taking as they will stand no chance against a player who has developed institution and is on time with technology. Malacca serves as an excellent collection point if the player desires to move away from Nippon.
Of course, Korea can also expand into Ming easily because of the more reliable Mingsplosion introduced in 1.29. Hangzhou is an important node that connects Nippon into either Indonesian trade or into Beijing. If Korea is to expand into China, it is highly recommended to form Manchu even for a casual run as getting a cultural union on the extremely developed Chinese region is huge, especially once high level manufactories are unlocked. Because of Korea’s small starting development and the fact that they begin with 2 Jurchen provinces, Korea can swap their primary culture to Jurchen without even needing to destate Korean provinces. Forming Manchu will also free Korea from the Peasant Revolts or the Literary Purges, so the player will not have to deal with them.
Culture and Tag Switching Shenanigans
If a player decides to be expansionist, the possibly of swapping cultures or even switching tags as Korea comes up often, considering the nation begins in one of the only isolated culture groups in the game and has sub-par national ideas. Both Manchu and Japan provide new opportunities for Korea with their superior culture and ideas. There are a couple ways players can use these two formables to their advantage:
As mentioned, Korea can decide to directly form Manchu for the cultural union over one of the largest culture groups in the game, Chinese. Its important to realize that when going for Choson One, the Korea tag (KOR) must be the one who controls all the Eastern religion provinces, meaning you cannot be Manchu for the achievement to fire. (Interestingly, there is no requirement that says you cannot switch nations, meaning it is theoretically possible to start as Korea, form Manchu, and then get Korean rebels at the end of the run and feed them your provinces.) If you do not want to form Manchu and stay as Korea but still benefit from a Chinese cultural union, waiting at the beginning of the run for Manchu to form via AI is not too implausible. Once Manchu forms, all Jurchen provinces immediately convert to Manchu, meaning a player Korea can just run the newly formed Manchu over and steal their cultural union over China.
Korea can also (relatively speaking) form Japan quite readily, although this will likely involve minor destating. Japan's idea set is basically superior to Korea's and is probably the best idea set that is formable in the East. A truly min-maxing, competitive player can form Manchu, swap to Japanese culture and form Japan for their better ideas, and then swap back to Manchu culture for the Chinese cultural union.
Swapping to any tag other than Korea will also free the player from Literary Purges and the Plight of the Peasantry, another incentive to form another nation.
Korea begins the game with Confucian, arguably the worst religion in the game, even compared to Animist. This is because Confucian and Harmonization bonuses are mediocre at best and Confucians are unable to convert the religion of provinces properly without tanking a large amount of Harmony. Therefore, finding another religion is a very common idea and will reward you greatly. While Ming and Japan get opportunities for Catholicism via events, Korea unfortunately does not have this privilege. The most practical religion to convert to is probably Hindu, as it can be found on the Philippines and Indonesia and is probably the strongest religion within reach. Tengri, although initially seeming like an easy pick, is actually bizarrely unviable because it is a pagan religion, meaning you would have to convert to Animism first.
If one is going for the Choson One achievement however, it is not a bad idea to stay Confucian as the base tolerance of heretics and the bonus from the event Resurgence of Neo-Confucianism means you can essentially ignore the negative penalties of having Buddhist or Shinto provinces while you decide to slowly harmonize them. If one still desires to move away from Confucian, then it is still not a bad idea to convert to any of the other Eastern religions. As cursed as it is, Shinto may be the easiest and best non-Confucian Eastern religion to access because of its Morale of Armies boost and its nice events. Buddhism is also a nice alternative if you desire the Humanist route because of its Tolerance of Heretics, and it grants you an easy 5% discipline.
Important things in the Mission Tree
There are several notable missions in Korea's tree, other than the ones required to get rid of Korea's penalties brought on by events. One is the Fire the Hwacha! mission that grants a hefty 25% Fire Damage modifier for 20 years, useful to pop when going up against a major enemy, usually Ming. Another is the Defeat the Shogun mission that grants a modifier in Hanseong that gives a national -5% development cost - Korea needs all the development cost modifiers it can get. The final modifier that is noteworthy comes from the Set Sail the Turtle Ships mission that grants a nice 10% Morale of Navies: although not that important against the AI, it is a good bonus to keep in multiplayer. The other two permanent modifiers from "The Hermit Kingdom" and "Korean Self-Reliance" comes very late game and give mostly minor modifiers in a time when money and rebels are less of an issue.